Althéa Laurin was one of two French winners on the second day of the World Taekwondo Championships ©World Taekwondo

There was double joy for France on the second day of the World Taekwondo Championships here, and two neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus finished on the podium for the first time after being allowed to compete.

French duo Magda Wiet-Hénin and Althéa Laurin triumphed in the women's under-67 kilograms and under-73kg categories respectively, with Bae Jun-seo of South Korea the day's other winner in the men's under-58kg as he beat Belarusian Georgii Gurtsiev, who participated under the Individual Neutral Athlete banner.

World number two Wiet-Héni earned her first world title at the age of 28 by beating world number one Julyana Al-Sadeq of Jordan in the final in three rounds.

Wiet-Héni won the first 5-1, before her opponent levelled the match in a second round that finished 5-5.

However, the Wiet-Héni was not to be denied, and triumphed 6-4 in the decider to take gold.

It marked the end of a superb day from an athlete whose best previous performance was a bronze medal in Manchester in 2019.

She beat Greece's Theopoula Sarvanaki and Nuray Khussainova without conceding a point, impressed against Doris Pole of Croatia in rounds that finished 2-2 and 11-2, and beat back-to-back Olympic bronze medallist Ruth Gbagbi of Ivory Coast 7-3 and 3-2 in the semi-final.

Mari Nilsen of Norway also finished on the podium after a fine run to the semi-finals, where she lost 6-4 and 3-2 to Al-Sadeq.

The women's under-73kg final was won by European champion and Tokyo 2020 over-67kg bronze medallist Laurin, who like her compatriot Wiet-Héni was ranked second in the world.

Laurin won a high-scoring final against Britain's Rebecca McGowan, a bronze medallist last year in Guadalajara, 16-10 and 9-5.

Georgii Gurtsiev's, right, silver medal was the best performance by a neutral athlete at the World Championships so far ©World Taekwondo
Georgii Gurtsiev's, right, silver medal was the best performance by a neutral athlete at the World Championships so far ©World Taekwondo

She started with a routine 7-0 and 13-1 win against Portugal's Sara Vital, then had to come from a round behind to beat Morocco's Omaima Boumah.

A 5-2 and 8-0 victory over Jordan's Rama Abo Al-Rub sealed a semi-final spot against Russian neutral Polina Khan, whose run she ended 1-0 and 10-2.

Matea Jelić of Croatia, the under-67kg Olympic champion, was the other semi-finalist but lost 7-5 and 9-8 to McGowan.

She had beaten the defending champion Nadica Božanić of Serbia in the round of 16 earlier in the day.

Khan was one of 14 Russian athletes cleared to compete as neutrals by World Taekwondo, along with nine Belarusians,

This followed the lifting of an International Olympic Committee-recommended outright ban on both countries' athletes, although it has proven controversial, particularly given Ukraine's decision to shun the World Championships.

Gurtsiev launched a surprise run in the men's under-73kg category which brought him to within one match of becoming the first Russian or Belarusuian athlete to top the podium as a neutral at the World Championships.

However, he was beaten by the under-54kg 2019 world champion Bae, who dominated both rounds of the final 10-2 and 15-5.

Bae's run included a comeback victory against Olympic silver medallist Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi of Tunisia in the quarter-finals and a win in two rounds 10-6 and 8-4 against Spain's Adrián Vicente Yunta.

Defending world and Olympic champion Vito Dell'Aquila of Italy withdrew against Jordan's Mahmoud Al-Taryreh in the quarter-finals because of a hand injury.

That ensured a place on the podium for Al-Taryreh, but he was beaten 12-7 and 12-8 by Gurtsiev.

Competition is due to continue tomorrow in Azerbaijan's capital with the men's under-80kg and under-87kg and the women's under-48kg categories set to be contested.